Hide your wife, your kids, grandma’s old silverware… shoot, you might want to go hide.
The Supreme Court has ruled that it is pretty much a crime against the constitution to keep as many people as are currently being hosted by the California prison system. Their suggested solution? The State of California needs to figure out a way to move and/or get rid of 30,000 inmates over the next to years.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-to-4 decision that broke along ideological lines, described a prison system that failed to deliver minimal care to prisoners with serious medical and mental health problems and produced “needless suffering and death.”
Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. filed vigorous dissents. Justice Scalia called the order affirmed by the majority “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.” Justice Alito said “the majority is gambling with the safety of the people of California.”
The majority opinion included photographs of inmates crowded into open gymnasium-style rooms and what Justice Kennedy described as “telephone-booth-sized cages without toilets” used to house suicidal inmates. Suicide rates in the state’s prisons, Justice Kennedy wrote, have been 80 percent higher than the national average. A lower court in the case said it was “an uncontested fact” that “an inmate in one of California’s prisons needlessly dies every six or seven days due to constitutional deficiencies.”
Monday’s ruling in the case, Brown v. Plata, No. 09-1233, affirmed an order by a special three-judge federal court requiring state officials to reduce the prison population to 110,000, which is 137.5 percent of the system’s capacity. There have been more than 160,000 inmates in the system in recent years, and there are currently more than 140,000.
State officials will have two years to comply with the order, and they may ask for more time. Justice Kennedy emphasized that the reduction in population need not be achieved solely by releasing prisoners early. Among the other possibilities, he said, are new construction, out-of-state transfers and using county facilities.
Out-of-state transfers? Why do the rest of us have to deal with these unruly Californians???
Yeah, this ruling is probably going to create more issues than what it’s trying to solve.